The Santa Maria City Council unanimously approved pay cuts to begin December 19 that will extend to all municipal workers in an effort to fix the city’s “dire financial condition.”

Assistant City Manager Rick Haydon said Santa Maria’s major sources of revenue are all economy driven. Due to this severe recession, revenues are not financing ongoing operational expenses.

“We needed to make some corrections,” Haydon said.

Along with facing one of the lowest full-time employee-to-population ratios in the state, Santa Maria is faced with a $5.5 million dollar budget deficit going into this fiscal year.

This is equivalent to 10 percent of the entire general fund budget of Santa Maria.

City Manager Tim Ness, along with Haydon, sat down with representatives from all employee bargaining units to discuss the financial emergency associated with the city’s revenue.

After months of discussion Haydon said a contract extension that reduced salaries between four and five percent for full-time and part-time employees was agreed upon.

Haydon claimed the layoffs were considered to be a bad option, “The City Council decided to use a combination of one-time reserves, upward to five percent reductions to operating departments and employee concessions to bridge the $5.5 million financial gap as we did not want to decrease the level of service to the community.”

With the implementation of this furlough program and the holiday pay concessions, the city will save approximately $1.2 million during 2010.

Sworn police personnel and fire fighters assigned a 56-hour work week will see a 4 percent reduction in compensation starting in January 2010. This 4 percent compensation reduction will come through holiday pay concessions.

“There will be no decrease in the level of service to the public,” Haydon said.

Haydon said all employees, including the City Council, Planning Commissioners and Recreation and Parks Commissioners, will be receiving less compensation next year.

“[Pay cuts are] all in an effort to help balance the City’s budget and not decrease the level of service of mission critical operations in the community,” Haydon said.

This concession will extend through December 2010.

Louis Dettorre can be reached at